When I was pregnant, I was so excited to be a mama. I wanted to do the best things and know the best products. I knew I wanted Lydia to be on a sleeping schedule. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. And I knew I wanted to teach her sign language.
I had heard a few stories of parents who taught their kids sign language before they could talk. My sil taught Nora a few signs like “eat”, “more” and “all done”. We babysat Nora for 11 days when she was 17 months old. If she hadn’t been able to sign those 3 words, it would have made our week a lot harder. So, I was pumped to start sign language with Lydia.
When Lydia was about 3 months old I discovered Signing Time. Signing Time is a collection of dvd shows that teach sign language to hearing kids. It’s cute, professional and funny. Here’s a sample of one of Lydia’s favorite songs.
See, Signing Time is tv show, an educational program, a video series…but, really it’s just a Mama who loves her 2 girls. Rachel de Azevedo Coleman is a musician. She and her husband were in a band. And they brought their little girl, Leah to the practices. When she was 14 months old they discovered that Leah was profoundly deaf. Imagine what that must be like for a musician! Rachel says she put down her guitar and picked up sign language. That’s love right there! Rachel wanted her daughter to be able to communicate with everyone around her–she even started volunteering to do sign language story times at their local library. This was the very beginning of Signing Time.
It came to fruition when Rachel’s 2nd daughter, Lucy was born with several physical problems including cerebral palsy and the doctor’s diagnosis was that she would never be able to communicate. Rachel started writing songs and soon Signing Time was born. Leah & Lucy can communicate through signs and speech even though the doctors said it would never happen. I love the Signing Time Foundation‘s mission, “to enrich the lives of children of all abilities”!
Lydia’s life has been enriched by this family’s hard work! I started watching Baby Signing Time with Lydia when she was 3 months old. Most kids don’t sign until 10-12 months, but I couldn’t wait! If she had been deaf, I would have been signing to her anyway! I started with “milk” and “eat” and “more” and “all done”. Soon, she started reacting to the signs–getting excited for milk or food. Then about 11 months she started signing “milk”! She’s continued to learn signs as quickly as I can teach her.
This week I counted 51 signs that Lydia knows. 51 signs she does to me with no prompting. 51 objects or feelings she can tell me about. 51 things I wouldn’t know about my daughter unless she could sign. I could literally talk about Signing Time and sign language forever. Next to breastfeeding, it’s the thing I’m most proud of for doing with Lydia.
This week Lydia has been ecstatic about Baby Signing Time, when she gets up in the morning she wants to listen to the cd. When it’s time to watch TV, she signs “baby”. When we get in the car she demands to hear “baby”. She can sign along to all the songs even before the words come one. She signs things she’s never seen before like a train and an airplane! Lydia also signs the alphabet when she hears the ABC song. I know it’s not perfect, but she’s doing it! She even babbles in sign language.
The thing that I love about Signing Time is it’s an example to me as a mother. Rachel’s family had a problem. She could have just worked on Leah. She could have just worked with Lucy. But she wanted the best for her daughters. And her desire extended to her family–her whole family is involved with Signing Time. Her nephew is one of the main characters on the video along with Leah. What courageous moms! I hope that if my niece had been born deaf, I would work hard to teach my children to communicate with her. I hope I’d be the mom that transforms the whole world so my daughters can have a better life. I want to be the woman that continues to enrich other’s lives, no matter their ability.
Here’s a few pictures of Lydia signing “more”, “all done” and “milk”.
And a video of her her “signing” the ABC’s. Watch her little hand up in the air. Once she sees me videoing her, she stops!